Psych Crime Reporter

July 25, 2014

E. Texas psychiatrist charged with trafficking Indian women for sex, forced labor

Filed under: human trafficking,psychiatrist,sexual exploitation — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:37 pm

TYLER, TX (KLTV) – An East Texas psychiatrist has been arrested and charged in connection with what’s being described as a ‘forced labor conspiracy’ in New York.

Riyaz Mazcuri, was arrested Thursday by the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office and booked in the jail on a federal warrant.

According to documents from the federal court in the Southern District of New York, Mazcuri, known as ‘The Doctor,’ was indicted along with three other men accused of organizing a human trafficking organization.

Mazcuri is a psychiatrist who has practiced in Texas for several years in Houston and most recently at a facility in Kilgore.

Federal court documents state the men would hire female dancers in India under the assumption they would perform cultural programs in the United States. Prosecutors allege when they would get to the U.S., the women would be forced to dance in nightclubs in front of men for twelve to fourteen hours per night, seven nights a week. Some of the performers were reportedly engaged in prostitution. The men would reportedly force the women to perform by confiscating their passports and by threatening them with physical violence.

The group reportedly operated in New York and in other locations from 2008 to 2010.

According to jail records, Mazcuri has a Houston address. He was ordered into the custody of the U.S. Marshals until a detention hearing, scheduled for July 29 in Tyler.

Mazcuri’s attorney, listed as Joel Androphy of Houston, was unable to be reached Friday for comment regarding on his client’s arrest.

Source: Cody Lillich, “E. Texas psychiatrist arrested, accused of trafficking Indian women for forced labor, prostitution,” KLTV-7 (www.kltv.com), July 25, 2014. 

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Alaska psychiatrist indicted for $300,000 Medicaid fraud

Filed under: Medicaid-Medicare fraud,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 7:35 pm

An Anchorage grand jury indicted a physician Thursday on multiple felony charges accusing him of fraudulently billing Medicaid, tampering with physical evidence and misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Charging documents accuse Dr. Shubhranjan Ghosh, 39, of billing Medicaid more than $300,000 for services he never provided. During Ghosh’s bail hearing in April, reports of a conversation that the doctor had with an employee wearing a wire revealed that the overpayments from the government program may have exceeded $1 million.

The most accurate dollar figure will remain veiled until the state Department of Law releases a completed audit. By Friday, the document had not been made public, said Andrew Peterson, director of the state Medicaid Fraud Control Unit.

Ghosh, a psychiatrist who specializes in mental health services for children, was out of jail on $200,000 cash bail Friday and scheduled to appear in Anchorage Superior Court at 1:45 p.m. Monday. He wears an ankle monitor and cannot leave the city, Peterson said. Peterson said Ghosh is still practicing medicine but cannot bill Medicaid.

The multi-agency investigation into Ghosh’s South Anchorage office began in September. Charges say that Ghosh, a sole practitioner, worked with his office manager to fraudulently bill Medicaid for three years starting in 2010. He made false charges for people including his office manager’s seven children and his ex-girlfriend’s children.

The office manager told an employee that Ghosh submitted false billings to cover time spent on tasks like answering phone calls and writing emails for Medicaid-related cases, services he was not compensated for. The employee estimated the offices submitted five fraudulent bills each week, charges say.

At the April bail hearing, Peterson told the court that Ghosh had a prescription drug problem and wrote multiple opiate prescriptions for friends. Most of the 15 controlled substance charges he faces stem from the delivery of hydrocodone.

Ghosh’s office manager has not been charged but Peterson said the investigation is ongoing.

Since October 2012, the state says, it has ramped up efforts to combat Medicaid fraud and abuse.

Recently, the state uncovered more than $628,000 in alleged Medicaid fraud at Good Faith Services, charging 45 people connected to the personal care provider. In January, the state prosecuted an employee with the Municipality of Anchorage who falsely billed Medicaid for more than $64,000 in personal care attendant services.

Source: Tegan Hanlon, “Anchorage physician indicted for Medicaid fraud topping $300,000,” Alaska Dispatch, July 25, 2014.

July 14, 2014

Man misdiagnosed by psychiatrists as delusional for 20 years sues

A man who spent nearly 20 years locked in a state psychiatric ward in Lincoln is suing doctors for malpractice, saying he was never mentally ill during his time there.

John Maxwell Montin, 52, filed the lawsuit Friday in federal court, naming 21 former or current Lincoln Regional Center doctors, a program manager and two nurses, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (http://bit.ly/1mVKX89 ).

Montin is seeking more than $22 million in damages for incorrectly labeling him mentally ill, unnecessarily holding him and subjecting him to treatments he didn’t need. He’s also seeking $760,000 in lost wages and $10 million in punitive damages.

Montin was released nearly a year ago after a regional center doctor acknowledged Montin had been misdiagnosed from the beginning. Doctors at the center had based his diagnosis of delusional disorder on police reports of a 1993 incident in which he was accused of walking up to rural house, declaring it had belonged to his ancestors and that he was taking it back.

But at his 1993 trial, witnesses refuted much of what Montin was accused of doing.

A Hayes County jury found him not responsible by reason of insanity of two charges: false imprisonment and use of a weapon. He was acquitted of more serious charges of attempted murder and another weapons charge.

He was sent to the Lincoln Regional Center that year. For the next 20 years, regional center doctors and others involved in Montin’s treatment relied on information from initial police reports that said Montin was delusional, rather than court records that showed otherwise.

But last year, a regional center psychiatrist found that it was medicine Montin had taken for his injured back that had led to a medication-induced psychosis. When Montin stopped taking the medication, which was long before he was committed to the regional center, the psychosis was gone. Doctors at the center simply didn’t believe him — for 20 years — when he insisted he was not delusional.

“It was an injustice, and he was right from the beginning,” said Jon Braaten, Montin’s attorney.

Braaten said Montin has returned to Florida, where he has a business cleaning the bottom of boats. The lawsuit says Montin missed the opportunity to marry and have a family, as well as his mother’s funeral, because of the Lincoln Regional Center’s malpractice.

Leah Bucco-White, a spokeswoman for the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services that runs the center, declined to comment to the newspaper Friday.

Source: “Man misdiagnosed as delusion for 20 years sues, Associated Press, July 12, 2014.

August 7, 2013

State considers reinstating license of psychiatrist convicted of child porn possession?

Filed under: child pornography,crime and fraud,license revoked,psychiatrist,Uncategorized — Psych Crime Reporter @ 2:34 pm

A former child psychiatrist who was felled by his lust for child pornography and spent time in federal prison is seeking forgiveness from those he betrayed — and a second chance.

And some of the most respected mental-health professionals in the area are rallying behind Dr. James H. Peak, suggesting that the man who served the medical community for nearly two decades deserves redemption.

Peak has petitioned the Montana Board of Medical Examiners for reinstatement of his medical license. A decision may come as soon as September.

“He has struggled with accepting the humiliation of public disclosure, but mostly with the fact that he has let his patients down,” said Michael J. Ramirez, clinical coordinator for the Montana Professional Assistance Program. “I believe that his remorse is genuine and heartfelt. He has paid his debt to society.”

Peak, 51, served just under 10 months in a Seattle federal prison after pleading guilty in August 2011 to possessing child pornography. He had been a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Billings Clinic, the state’s largest hospital, since 1994.

Since his release from prison, Peak has been working to restore not only his medical license but also his reputation and the trust he lost when his double life was exposed.

He is volunteering 20 hours a week at the South Central Montana Regional Mental Health Center in Billings, where he is helping update policies and procedures. He has no contact with patients.

As conditions of his probation and his treatment from the state Professional Assistance Program, Peak attends two 12-step programs, one for sex addicts and one for alcoholics. He regularly sees a psychiatrist and a social worker and participates in group therapy. And he attends a peer support group, which includes other licensed medical professionals. He also participates weekly in the Montana Sex Offender Treatment Program.

The court has restricted his contact with children and his use of computers. He was also ordered to register as a sex offender and is subject to random urinalysis and polygraph tests.

Along with the support of the Professional Assistance Program, Peak also has the loyal support of his wife, who is a prominent Billings physician, and their teenage daughter, said Ramirez, the program’s coordinator. Peak’s wife declined to be interviewed for this story.

The assistance program is funded by medical licensing fees and helps physicians and dentists whose practices have been jeopardized by sexual misconduct, substance abuse, psychiatric illness or other issues.

Ramirez said 90 percent of medical professionals who work with MPAP successfully return to practice.

He has been working with Peak since Peak’s arrest in February 2011.

“This man has been to hell and back,” Ramirez said, recalling one of their first meetings when Peak lay in the fetal position on his office floor.

“He is an example of courage, resilience, compassion and strength that will serve him, his future colleagues and patients well,” Ramirez said. “The best disinfectant is sunlight. … He doesn’t have anything to hide. Not anymore.”

Top of the world

From the outside, Peak seemed to have it all. He had a thriving practice serving troubled young patients. Even after his arrest, the parents of several of his patients praised his work, some even saying that Peak’s therapy may have saved their child’s life.

But Peak was battling an escalating addiction to child pornography that he said stretched back 30 years. As early as his own adolescence, he said he recalls being sexually attracted to young boys.

That attraction, he insists, never reached beyond fantasy and child pornography. He said he’s only had sexual relations with two women, all the while knowing something about him was “off.”

“I knew there was something wrong with me,” he said. “And I knew I could never tell anyone.”

He said he was mostly able to keep his inappropriate desires in check until the advent of the Internet, where pornography is more accessible and abundant. After viewing the child pornography he collected, he said he would despise himself, sometimes to the point of throwing away his computer.

He’d then be fine for a three or four months, he said, before caving in again.

Investigators say they found no evidence that Peak ever viewed pornography at work, and polygraph results confirm his insistence that he never touched a child inappropriately.

“I felt the powerful paradox of being a really good doctor, wanting to help people — and wanting to protect children — and this darker part of me that I tried to keep walled off,” Peak said.

“It was incredibly painful to discover that I was utilizing pornography that took advantage of children,” he said. “To become the thing I didn’t want to be was extraordinarily painful.”

His secret life began to unravel when a pornographic advertisement featuring little boys arrived in his mailbox. He contacted an FBI agent he knew about the ad and was told to contact a U.S. postal inspector.

The ad, it turns out, was part of a federal investigation. Peak’s illicit Internet activities had apparently come to the attention of federal authorities.

When he was later confronted by authorities, he consented to a search of his home and, according to court testimony, was “extremely helpful” in collecting and identifying evidence, including credit card statements confirming his purchases of child pornography.

“I’d like to say I turned myself in,” Peak said. “I didn’t do that. I didn’t have the courage to do that. I had to get forced into it.”

Peak, who said he was once suicidal, sees that initial call to the FBI as a cry for help. Deep down, he wanted to be caught.

“I was miserable,” Peak said. “I couldn’t go on like this. I was drinking a lot. I was an alcoholic. I was trying to medicate the pain of this illness.”

The most difficult part of his conviction was not the nine months and 18 days he spent in prison, he said. It was all the people he let down. He had patients he cared about and had fostered relationships of trust with.

Then, one day he was gone. Literally.

“I fell off the face of the earth,” he said. “I can never apologize for that enough. I feel bad about that every day.”

Many of his young patients were in need of therapy because they had been betrayed by adults. He struggles with whether he, too, has become another adult who let them down.

“When I’m in a bad mood, when I’m in my bad place, I become another one of those people, which is very difficult,” he said.

The road back

Peak realizes he will never be able to work with children again, but said he still has much to contribute as a practicing psychiatrist.

Other mental-health professionals agree, including Barbara Mettler, executive director of the Mental Health Center, where Peak is volunteering to update policies.

“We are a mental-health center,” Mettler emphasized. “We believe that with help, people can recover and get better. If we don’t provide opportunities for people to do that, who’s going to? I implicitly believe him when he says he has never touched a child. I think that’s worth giving this man a chance.”

Another advocate and mentor is Dr. Thomas Van Dyk, a psychiatrist and medical director at the Mental Health Center who encouraged Peak’s volunteer work there.

Van Dyk has known Peak for 18 years and said that with the exception of his prison term, he has met with him every week since his arrest. He describes Peak as an “excellent” psychiatrist and hopes he can eventually join the staff at the Mental Health Center.

“I’m proud of him for coming forward and working to get himself back in order,” Van Dyk said.

Before entering federal prison in Seattle, Peak was referred for a comprehensive psychosexual evaluation and treatment at a Texas facility that specializes in treating health care professionals. Reports from his treatment team indicated that he was a model patient and extremely motivated for change.

Michael D. Sullivan is director of the Billings-based South Central Treatment Associates, which specializes in the evaluation and treatment of juvenile and adult sex offenders and victims. He said that while there is no one-size-fits-all treatment, sex offenders can be rehabilitated. Much depends on the nature of the individual’s problem, he said.

The success of rehabilitation depends on several factors that include the makeup of an individual’s personality, his or her adaptive skills, the nature of the problem, and what he has done in terms of getting treatment.

“There are a lot of offenders deemed low-risk who are treatable and go on to lead productive lives,” Sullivan said.

Research also shows that the rates of recidivism for online offenders are relatively low when compared with average rates of recidivism found for hands-on sexual offenders.

As Peak awaits a decision on the reinstatement of his license, he is aware he has critics. None will be harsher on him than he is on himself.

“Jim Peak is having a difficult time forgiving Jim Peak,” MPAP’s Ramirez said. “That’s the hardest lesson, and it’s taking some time.”

Source: Cindy Uken, “Former child psychiatrist convicted for child porn seeks redemption,” Billings Gazette, August 3, 2013.

August 2, 2013

Suit alleges psychiatrist took nude photos of 14-year-old patient

A young woman is suing a Halifax psychiatrist for allegedly taking nude photos of her during the course of an appointment with him.

The claimant, who was about 14 years old at the time, went to Dr. Curtis Steele for treatment of “attention deficient and depressive symptoms” in 2003, a statement of claim filed in Nova Scotia Supreme Court alleges.

“During their last appointment, the defendant informed the plaintiff that he was a photographer,” the claim filed Thursday alleges.

“(Steele) asked the plaintiff if she would do some modelling for him. … At the inducement of the defendant, the plaintiff got completely undressed while he left the room,” the claim alleges.

“The defendant returned several minutes later and proceeded to take photographs of the plaintiff’s fully nude body in his office.”

The girl got dressed; before leaving, Steele advised her not to tell anyone, the claim alleges.

She never went back to Steele, states the claim.

The woman is suing the doctor for treating her in a “sexually inappropriate manner” and alleges her psychiatric treatment “fell below the knowledge, competence and skill of a similarly qualified psychiatrist,” according to the court papers.

Her lawyers, Wagners of Halifax, also allege she suffered harm because of the incident.

“The power entrusted in psychiatrists, particularly psychiatrists of children in need of care, must not be used in corrupt ways,” lawyer Mike Dull wrote in the claim.

“The defendant was to provide a place of sanctity, nurture and trust.”

The woman alleges a breach of fiduciary duty and is seeking aggravated, punitive and exemplary damages, the claim states.

The claimant, now in her mid-20s, did not want to speak to the media when contacted through her lawyer Thursday.

Reached Thursday, Steele said he was not aware of the statement of claim.

“I don’t want to comment until I’ve been notified,” he said.

The allegations have not been proven in court, and Steele has not yet filed a defence.

Source: Eva Hoare, “Woman sues psychiatrist over photos,” Herald News, August 1, 2013.

January 25, 2013

Jury to decide fate of Calgary psychiatrist Aubrey Levin, accused of sexual assault

Filed under: psychiatrist,sexual abuse — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:22 pm

CALGARY – Jurors will be charged on Friday with determining a verdict in the trial of a Calgary psychiatrist accused of sexually assaulting several of his patients.

It has been over three months since the trial for Dr. Aubrey Levin began.

He’s facing ten counts of sexually abusing nine of his patients.

The Crown alleges the abuse took place over 11 years from 1999 to 2010, including some patients who were court-ordered to see Levin.

In his final arguments, Crown prosecutor Bill Wister told the jury the alleged victims were sitting ducks, and were the last people on earth a psychiatrist would expect to speak out.

During the trial, the jury viewed graphic video the chief complainant said was secretly recorded, showing allegedly inappropriate contact from Levin.

Source: Melissa Ramsay, “Jury to decide fate of Calgary psychiatrist accused of sexual assault,” Global News, January 25, 2013.

The man who took the video says he was assaulted by Levin numerous times during court-ordered counseling sessions.

Levin has said he was conducting an examination to check for sexual dysfunction.

The 73-year-old was found physically able to stand trial, but his lawyers argued that he has dementia and does not understand the justice system.

His defence lawyer Chris Archer has told the jury the nine men who accuse him of sexual assault are motivated by money and have fabricated their allegations.

Pig farmer sues Chinese government after being detained in psychiatric hospital

Filed under: government control,involuntary commitment,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:01 pm

A COURT in northeast China has begun to hear a case in which a farmer is suing government departments in an eastern city, claiming they forced him into psychiatric hospital.

Liu Gang, who ran a pig farm in Linyi City in Shandong Province, said he was admitted to a hospital’s mental illness unit on September 19, 2008, reported the People’s Court in Beizhen City, Liaoning Province.

Liu, a native of Beizhen, had been trying to file a complaint over the sudden deaths of his pigs following epidemic control measures by local authorities, the court heard.

Liu said he was released from the hospital on October 8, 2008, but sent there again on January 6, 2009, after asking for an “explanation” from the bureau of complaints and civil affairs over the first admission. His second stay lasted 36 days.

On Friday, the defendant and plaintiff argued whether Liu’s personal freedom was illegally restricted and whether he suffered from mental illness. Both parties agreed for Liu to take psychiatric tests.

Source: “Pig farmer sues gov’t after forced into ‘psychiatric hospital’,” Sina, January 20, 2013.

January 11, 2013

NY psychiatrist Gino Grosso sentenced on controlled substance conviction

Filed under: controlled substances,crime and fraud,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 4:50 pm

On July 3, 2012, psychiatrist Gino J. Grosso surrendered his license to the New York State Board for Professional Medical Conduct (BPMC), in response to a charge of professional misconduct. According to the BPMC’s statement of charges, on or about January 5, 2011, Grosso pleaded guilty to the felony of delivery of or possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance. He was sentence June 14, 2011 to no less than three nor more than 10 years in prison.

Psychiatrists charged, disciplined nationwide August-October 2012

Filed under: mental health,psychiatrist,health care licensing board discipline — Psych Crime Reporter @ 3:36 pm

On October 24, 2012, the Virginia Board of Medicine reprimanded psychiatrist Daniel Acosta. The Board’s Consent Order states that on March 13, 2012, the North Carolina Medical Board reprimanded Acosta and ordered that he attend continuing medical education on record keeping and prescribing, based on findings that Acosta’s diagnosis, treatment and documentation of six patients failed to conform to the standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice.

On September 7, 2012, the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs summarily suspended the license of psychiatrist Nan Beth Alt on charges of negligence, lack of good moral character, fraud or deceit in obtaining or attempting to obtain a third party reimbursement and allowing an unauthorized person to use her medical license. The complaint filed against Alt states that allowed her father, also a physician, to work out of her office and also wrote provided pre-signed prescriptions forms for him. The senior Alt’s medical license had previously been suspended.

On August 31, 2012, the Texas Medical Board ordered psychiatrist Robert Alan Woodward to pay an administrative penalty of $5,000 in addition to ordering him successfully complete at least eight hours of continuing medical education on the topic of risk management, among other terms and conditions. According to the Board’s report, this disciplinary action was the result of Woodward having failed to renew his controlled substance prescribing certificate when it expired in November 2010 and wrote more than 500 prescriptions for controlled substances before finally renewing it in March 2011.

On September 17, 2012, the Medical Board of California issued an Accusation against psychiatrist Lana Le Chabrier, relative to Le Chabrier’s criminal conviction. According to the Board’s document, on or about July 12, 2012, Le Chabrier was found guilty of health care fraud and conspiracy to commit health care fraud against the Medicare program. Le Chabrier was sentenced to six and a half years prison.

On or about October 18, 2012, Harvard psychiatrist David Herzog surrendered his licensed to the Massachusetts Board of Medicine. Herzog, who founded the Harris Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (an eating disorders center), was found to have engaged in sexual misconduct with a bulimic patient. Administrative findings describe and increasingly friendly relationship between Herzog and the patient, culminating in a sexual encounter in the patient’s home while her husband was away.

December 18, 2012

Precedent: Psychiatrist goes to prison following patient’s axe murder

Filed under: crime and fraud,psychiatrist — Psych Crime Reporter @ 5:08 pm
Tags:

MARSEILLES, France – A French psychiatrist whose patient hacked an elderly man to death was found guilty of manslaughter on Tuesday in a groundbreaking case that could affect the way patients are treated.

A court in Marseilles said Daniele Canarelli, 58, had committed a “grave error” by failing to recognize the public danger posed by Joel Gaillard, her patient of four years.

Gaillard hacked to death 80-year-old Germain Trabuc with an axe in March 2004 in Gap, in the Alps region of southeastern France, 20 days after fleeing a consultation with Canarelli at Marseilles’s Edouard Toulouse hospital.

Canarelli was handed a one-year prison sentence and ordered to pay 8,500 euros to the victim’s children, in the first case of its kind in France. Defense lawyers said the ruling would have serious repercussions for treatment of the mentally ill.

“If a psychiatrist lives in fear of being sentenced, it will have very real consequences and probably lead to harsher treatment of patients,” said Canarelli’s lawyer, Sylvain Pontier.

The court said Canarelli should have requested Gaillard be placed in a specialized medical unit or referred him to another medical team, as one of her colleagues suggested. Her stubborn refusal had equated to a form of “blindness”, the court president Fabrice Castoldi said.

Gaillard had already been forcibly committed to a secure hospital on several occasions for a series of increasingly dangerous incidents.

The victim’s son, Michel Trabuc, said he hoped the case would set a legal precedent.

“There’s no such thing as zero risk, but I hope this will move psychiatry forward and, above all, that it will never happen again,” he said.

Gaillard was not held responsible for his actions and was freed under medical supervision.

Source: Jean-François Rosnoblet, Vicky Buffery and Alison Williams, “French psychiatrist sentenced after patient commits murder,”
Reuters, December 18, 2012.

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